Oklahoma City Migrates To Networked Imaging
City departments adopt optical storage to provide reliable document retrieval system and archive mass amounts of paper.
The local government of Oklahoma City wanted various city departments to have electronic access to millions of government records, work orders, City Council papers, and other government documents. Departments (such as the Water, Airport and Municipal Courts) had primarily been using paper-based storage which was occupying hundreds of filing cabinets and taking up a great deal of floor space. Documents were often misfiled which made it a time-consuming procedure when employees went to retrieve them.
Oklahoma City's MIS Director, Kerry Wagnon, contacted Louie Allen of Sunbelt Data Systems, a reseller of imaging software and jukebox hardware. Sunbelt provided the hardware and software solution necessary for this installation. Before city-wide deployment, Wagnon wanted to first conduct a pilot test at the City Clerk's office. Sunbelt recommended optical jukebox storage for the installation because it was economical; had quick access time; and promised a long, secure archive life.
A Successful Pilot Package
The City Clerk's office had accumulated several years worth of documents which originated from City Council agendas, City Council meeting summaries, and City Council resolutions passed. The pilot project was initiated using Excalibur Technologies Inc.'s EFS™ (Electronic Filing Software) in conjunction with an optical storage jukebox. The EFS software ran on a Digital Equipment Corporation VMS (Virtual Memory System) platform.
The system allowed the City Clerk's office to reduce its amount of paper storage and paper mailings because they were now electronically stored. "Employees no longer have to search for documents and then make a hundred copies to mail out to other city departments when those departments need the information," says Oklahoma City Project Manager, Stan Reichert. "If department employees in other buildings want to use a City Clerk's document as a template, they can download it from a wide area network to their PC and make their changes. They don't need additional software to do this. They can simply use a browser which saves time and money."
Migration To A Windows NT Platform Before Full Rollout
The pilot, which lasted more than two years, demonstrated the installation would work, but the city then decided to migrate its systems from a VMS platform to a Windows NT platform. Excalibur Technologies informed Wagnon what the city would need for a migration to Windows NT and Sunbelt Data Systems provided the hardware necessary (HP NetServers 6/200 LX PRO SMP) for the migration. The rollout of the new system into city departments was then started.
Two Departments Are Selected
The first full migration to the EFS system involved the Water Department and the Department of Airports. These two departments had massive amounts of documents needing to be easily accessible online.
The Water Department's Problem
The Water Department had a wall of filing cabinets containing thousands of work orders. If a work order were misfiled, it often took employees several minutes to locate it. When a group of past orders were needed for field research, this system was not efficient.
The new system provides retrieval time in seconds and eliminates the possibility of misfiling papers. Once a file is stored in the jukebox, it will always be in the same place no matter how many times it is accessed. The installation involved the following: an HP 160FX (166GB) Jukebox, KOM OptiStorm™ software, EFS™ document management software, and a Windows NT platform.
Any data scanned or input into the system at individual workstations is automatically written to a cached storage area on the NT server. The cache always contains the most recent data. When the NT server is at a low usage point, the information is migrated and stored in the jukebox. This is "invisible" to the user and does not affect the search and retrieval process.
When a search is done to retrieve documents, the KOM OptiStorm storage management software checks the cached storage area on the NT server first (for the most recent documents) and then the jukebox. The document is automatically located and brought up on the user's screen. If a document is in the cache and has already been migrated to the jukebox, the system does not migrate that document again. This eliminates the possibility of document duplication in the jukebox.
The Department of Airports' Problem
The airport had a large quantity of accounting records, bank statements, leasing records and other documents occupying more than 50 large filing cabinets. The department wanted to archive these records simply to save space. "The airport's system is more for archival purposes, rather than for conducting research or retrieval purposes," says Reichert. "The department has one person who scans in and archives all its records."
The Department of Airports was a remote site and network access was required. Once network access was established, the same hardware and software implemented at the Water Department were used to solve the problem.
The two departments now have easy access to networked documents. Since these two installations took place, three other departments (including the Municipal Court System where a microfilm library is being converted to jukebox storage) have started to implement the system. "As departments determine their need for optical storage and find the funds for it, they are starting to actually implement it," says Reichert. "This will probably be a project that will span the next few years."